viernes, 29 de enero de 2010

To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse (Harcourt, no publication date)
by Virginia Woolf
England, 1927

While longtime Woolf fanatics like Emily and Frances will have to weigh in on whether my reaction is at all typical, I'm beginning to suspect that there's an ever widening gap developing between my enthusiasm for Woolf's narrative gifts and my enthusiasm for her characters.  To the Lighthouse, for example, has a full cast of marvelously-drawn, psychologically-distinct personalities--none of whom I'd care to hang out with in real life.  Perhaps that's the point.  Given that so much of the novel dwells on the small successes and the myriad failures of marriage and "family life" as seen from the perspectives of one particular family and their friends a decade apart in time, there's no need for Woolf to people it with "appealing" characters to highlight the gap between our aspirations and our disillusions or to demonstrate how men and women can feel boxed in by adhering to traditional social roles.  Then again,  perhaps success is Woolf's failure.  She's so adept at revealing the organic ebb and flow of multiple characters' thought processes that their inevitable human flaws--the pettiness, the extreme emotional neediness, the class bias, the pride--seem magnified under the x-ray vision of her prose.  Ah, the prose!  For whatever my issues with not being able to relate to Woolf's characters on some more primal level, I remain firmly under the spell of her dizzying style.  I love both the poetic phrases that pop up out of nowhere ("The pulp had gone out of their friendship," on page 21, and "A question like Nancy's--What does one send to the Lighthouse?--opened doors in one's mind that went banging and swinging to and fro," on page 146, are two favorite images from this time out) and how the characters confront their own mortality with a very particular sort of cynicism (Mr. Ramsay: "The very stone one kicks with one's boot will outlast Shakespeare" [35].).  Although I've yet to figure out exactly what Woolf intended to communicate by disparagingly dwelling on the description of one female character's "Chinese eyes," used almost like a Homeric epithet several times in the novel (see pages 17, 26, 91, 104, and 156 in the Harcourt edition), I do admire how Lily Briscoe's painting functions on so many different symbolic levels within the confines of the work: as an attempt to capture a moment, an attempt to capture a personality, an artist's attempt to "contain" reality, a search for clarity in a painting in a text devoted to much the same thing, etc.  Most of all, I'm continually mesmerized by Woolf's jump cut editing approach to storytelling and the novel way in which the technique (the first part's chapter XV in its entirety: "'Yes,' said Prue, in her considering way, answering her mother's question, 'I think Nancy did go with them'" [79]) allows her to seem to suspend time while dexterously juggling simultaneous narrative threads ("Time Passes," the second of To the Lighthouse's three parts, is another testament to the success of the author's manipulation of same).  Having probably first fallen in love with the jump cut style in the later works of Roberto Bolaño, a modern master of that brand of authorial sleight of hand, I have to say that it's quite a trip to see Woolf's experiments with it some 75 years earlier.  Pretty damn cool.  (


Thanks to Emily of Evening All Afternoon for hosting discussion of today's Woolf in Winter read!  Also, see you all on or around February 12th with a post on Woolf's Orlando (next discussion epicenter: Frances' Nonsuch Book).

jueves, 28 de enero de 2010

Mexico 2010 Reading Challenge

Libro de buen amor (manuscrito S)

OK, so let's try this again.  A mere day or two after posting and then deleting a list of stuff I thought would make a cool set of reading for the Decades Challenge if only I were so inclined to join, I'm back with the same list and an announcement that I guess I'm ready to join a challenge after all.  More on that in a moment. In the meantime--and although the U.S. blog world's apparent infatuation with kiddie literature and paranormal romance makes me fear that (re-)posting this list will mark me as even a bigger geek/pariah than I already am--here are the projected titles for my upcoming personal reading project skirmishes with 14th century manuscript culture:

1300s: Libro del Caballero Zifar
1310s: ???
1320s: Dante, Divine Comedy
1330s: Don Juan Manuel, El Conde Lucanor
1340s: Juan Ruiz, Arcipreste de Hita, Libro de buen amor
1350s: Boccaccio, The Decameron (alternate: Ibn Battutta's travel chronicle)
1360s: Guillaume de Machaut, Le Voir dit
1370s: Travels of Sir John Mandeville
1380s: Piers Plowman
1390s: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales (alternate: Bernat Metge, Lo somni)

Libro de buen amor (c. 1343)

Although I mentioned in the deleted post that I thought that the 14th century was one of the greatest centuries for literature ever (all the proof that's needed: people with questionable taste couldn't buy mass market paperbacks in department stores and supermarkets and then blog about them back then!), I've decided to make my peace with the post-printing press world by joining the Mexico 2010 Reading Challenge hosted by Sylvia of Classical Bookworm.  You can read about this challenge's details by clicking on the link above; my current ideas for possible reading choices appear below.

Carmen Boullosa, La otra mano de Lepanto (2005)
Carlos Fuentes, La muerte de Artemio Cruz (1962)
Martín Luis Guzmán, El águila y la serpiente (1928)
Octavio Paz, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz o Las trampas de la fe (1982)
Elena Poniatowska, La noche de Tlatelolco (1971)
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Respuesta a sor Filotea de la Cruz (1691)
Jorge Volpi, En busca de Klingsor (1999)

P.S.  Since a few of these works will be rereads anyway, please let me know if you have any additional titles to suggest for either list above.  I'll try to leave the post up for more than 6 hours this time, too!

lunes, 25 de enero de 2010

The Decameron #3/10: Christian Fiction or Pre-Porn Porn?

While it's probably been far too long since my last Decameron post here, rest assured that Boccaccio continues to push the envelope of good taste! The Third Day's set of stories, ostensibly a series of tales on the theme of "people who by dint of their own efforts have achieved an object they greatly desired, or recovered a thing previously lost" (189), is actually primarily concerned with lampooning the sexual misdeeds and hypocrisy of the clerical class.  The ten storytellers go into attack mode from the outset, launching the satiric barrage with a story about an enterprising young man who pretends he's a deaf-mute to gain employment as a gardener at a nunnery.  Once installed in the new position, he immediately begins to receive non-stop sexual attention from eight nuns and eventually even the abbess herself, all nine of whom feel that their secret is safe with the hunky gardener on account of his feigned disability.  In a later story, the amusing tone of the gardener piece gives way to a spirited dissertation on the friars' dissolute ways in a speech that runs a full six or seven paragraphs in duration.  Although the speaker who chides the friars for desiring "riches and women" (243) is actually a fake "pilgrim" who derides the clergy as part of an elaborate scheme to win his ex-lover back, it's quite a hoot to see his laundry list of anticlerical sentiments aired out with such gleeful proficiency.

Naturally, this is all just a set up to the closing story in the sequence, a raunchy episode in which a desert hermit teaches a naive, non-Christian girl that the proper way to serve God according to the Christian faith is by helping the hermit put the devil back into hell.  Since the girl, Alibech, doesn't know what the hermit, Rustico, means by all this, the formerly ascetic Rustico decides that this is a concept perhaps best explained while both are naked!

" 'Rustico, what is that thing I see sticking out in front of you, which I do not possess?'
'Oh, my daughter,' said Rustico, 'this is the devil I was telling you about.  Do you see what he's doing?  He's hurting me so much that I can hardly endure it.'
'Oh, praise be to God,' said the girl, 'I can see that I am better off than you are, for I have no such devil to contend with.'
'You're right there,' said Rustico.  'But you have something else instead, that I haven't.
'Oh?' said Alibech.  'And what's that?'
'You have Hell,' said Rustico.  'And I honestly believe that God has sent you here for the salvation of my soul, because if this devil continues to plague the life out of me, and if you are prepared to take sufficient pity upon me to let me put him back into Hell, you will be giving me marvelous relief, as well as rendering incalculable service and pleasure to God, which is what you say you came here for in the first place.' (277)"

If you'll forgive the lack of exegesis here, suffice it to say that the two characters spend much of their time thereafter in bed--practicing "the art of incarcerating that accursed fiend" (277) until Alibech becomes so fond of punishing the devil that the hermit has to send her away to get any rest.

Laugh out loud as I did throughout this latest batch of stories (I have to say that the last one had me in tears!), I should note that translator G.H. McWilliam actually brings up a serious point about The Decameron's morally casual prose in a footnote.  Referring to Boccaccio's use of "the resurrection of the flesh" as a euphemism for an erection (277), McWilliam notes that this "profane sexual metaphor," first used by Apuleius in The Golden Ass, led to a situation in which English translators of The Decameron either "omitted this story altogether or resorted at this point to either the original Italian or one of the French versions" until the end of the 19th century.  "Pornography, it seemed, was permissible provided it appeared in a language that only a minority of one's readers could understand" (825).  Say what you will about these translators' ethics, I'd love to know what the typical medieval readers must have thought of Boccaccio's combination of religious and sexual imagery.  Were there "typical" readers, in fact? And would they have laughed like me at the union or would they have given it the Florentine equivalent of an NC-17 rating?  For one possible answer, I'll soon be turning to Guido Almansi, whose 1975 The Writer as Liar: Narrative Technique in the "Decameron" includes a promising chapter on the novel's "erotic episodes."  And for a Spanish parallel, we can always turn to Juan Ruiz' Libro de Buen Amor [Book of Good Love] (c. 1343), a long narrative poem from Castile that sports some religious verses comparing "adoring the cross" to oral sex (LBA 121c).  Ok, so maybe you're not ready for that kind of medieval verbal wordplay just yet--but extra points if you are!

lunes, 18 de enero de 2010

Abril rojo

Abril rojo (Punto de Lectura, 2008)
por Santiago Roncagliolo
Perú, 2006

Un thriller, divertido en sí mismo pero demasiado cursi, ambientado en el Perú del año 2000.  La trama tiene que ver con la indagación de una serie de asesinatos sangrientos llevada a cabo en la provincia de Huamanga durante las celebraciones de Semana Santa. Lo que me gustó: la parte de la investigación que llama la atención a la supuesta resurreción del Sendero Luminoso.  También me interesó el retrato de un Perú dividido en grupos de hispanohablantes y quechuahablantes.  No conozco al país, pero tenía la sensación de que la "mirada antropológica" de Roncagliolo probablemente fuese bastante fiel a la realidad peruana.  Lo que no me gustó: casi todo lo demás.  Basta decir que el protagonista, el fiscal distrital adjunto Félix Chacaltana Saldívar, es un personaje ridículo que va a experimentar una metamorfosis poco creíble durante el curso de los eventos, y que el argumento sufre de una sobredosis de "sorpresas" estilo Dan Brown a lo largo de la obra.  Qué lástima.  (

Santiago Roncagliolo

viernes, 15 de enero de 2010

Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway (Harcourt, 2005)
by Virginia Woolf
England, 1925

With so many mainstream classics really only representing the literary equivalent of elevator music, I'm relieved to report that Mrs. Dalloway is every bit as edgy and ambitious as I'd been led to believe.  Although I went into this, my first encounter with Woolf, not really knowing what to expect, I was pretty much wowed from the start by her narrative audacity and the immediacy of her imagery.  The plot, as many of you will no doubt know, pivots around the interlocking stories of aristocratic party hostess Clarissa Dalloway and shellshocked war hero Septimus Smith.  Although the fact that one of these two characters is about to end up as a suicide lends an extra measure of gravitas to the fiction considering Woolf's own life story, perhaps what's most chilling here is the insinuation that taking one's life could be a natural response to the meaninglessness of the modern age itself.  Fuck love.  Fuck poetry.  Fuck all tomorrow's parties.  What makes this bleak point of view engaging from the reader's perspective, of course, is that it's just one of many possible vantage points in terms of the characters involved.  For in telling us about what Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus Smith and Peter Walsh all have in common, Woolf is positively brilliant at putting us into the minds of the characters themselves.  What they think.  How they feel.  What they might have gained and lost since the innocence of their youth. Both the style (compelling interior monologues that feel real, organic narratorial changes that take place in the blink of an eye) and the language (the observational detail, the ability to capture a fleeting moment in a passing comment) are bracing, in fact--quite a feat, wouldn't you agree, for a novel confronting mental illness, postwar malaise, and, possibly most depressing of all, the inability of love to heal certain wounds, with such profound and arresting intimacy?  (
La señora Dalloway
por Virginia Woolf
Inglaterra, 1925

Con tantos clásicos del canon sólo siendo los equivalentes de la música cursi al estilo Céline Dion, es un verdadero placer decir que La señora Dalloway sea tan arriesgada y ambiciosa como su reputación.  Aunque éste fue mi primer encuentro con Woolf y por eso no lo sabía qué me esperaba, casi inmediatemente la novelista me hizo una impresión bastante buena con su audacia narrativa y la inmediatez de sus imágenes.  El argumento, como muchos de ustedes sabrán, gira sobre las historias entrelazadas de Clarissa Dalloway, la anfitriona aristócrata de una fiesta, y Septimus Smith, un héroe de la Primera Guerra Mundial que padece neurosis de guerra.  Aunque el hecho de que uno de estos dos personajes va a suicidarse dentro de poco la da a la ficción una medida extra de gravitas a causa de la trayectoría personal de Woolf, quizá el asunto lo más escalofriante acá sea la sugerencia que el acto de despedirse a la vida es una respuesta natural a la insensatez de la época moderna.  ¿El amor?  ¡Andate a la mierda!  ¿La poesía?  ¡Andate a la mierda!  ¿Todas las fiestas de mañana?  ¡Andate a la mierda!  Con respecto a esta perspectiva nada halagüeña, lo interesante acerca de la novela es que es sólo un punto de vista entre muchos otros.  Porque, al decirnos todo lo que la señora Dalloway y Septimus Smith y Peter Walsh tienen en común, Woolf es realmente maravillosa al ponernos al corriente en cuanto al mundo de sus personajes desde los puntos de vista de los personajes mismos.  Lo que piensan.  Cómo se sientan.  Lo que han perdido durante la marcha de los años desde la inocencia de su juventud.  De hecho, ambos el estilo (los monólogos interiores, la rapidez con cual se nota el cambio de narradores) y el lenguaje (los cuidadosos detalles de observación,  la capacidad de capturar un momento con un comentario hecho de paso) son vigorizantes--una proeza, ¿no?, en una novela que trata de la salud mental, el malestar de postguerra, y quizá lo más deprimente de todo, el fracaso del amor para curar nos dolores, de manera tan profunda e íntima por parte de la autora.

Virginia Woolf

"Here he opened Shakespeare once more. That boy's business of the intoxication of language--Antony and Cleopatra--had shrivelled utterly.  How Shakespeare loathed humanity--the putting on of clothes, the getting of children, the sordidity of the mouth and the belly!  This was now revealed to Septimus; the message hidden in the beauty of words.  The secret signal which one generation passes, under disguise, to the next is loathing, hatred, despair.  Dante the same.  Aeschylus (translated) the same.  There Rezia sat at the table trimming hats.  She trimmed hats for Mrs. Filmer's friends; she trimmed hats by the hour.  She looked pale, mysterious, like a lily, drowned, under water, he thought.

'The English are so serious,' she would say, putting her arms round Septimus, her cheek against his."  (Mrs. Dalloway, pp. 86-87)

P.S. Thanks to Sarah of what we have here is a failure to communicate for hosting the Mrs. Dalloway portion of Woolf in Winter.

sábado, 9 de enero de 2010


by María Rosa Menocal
Source: David T. Gies (ed).  The Cambridge History of Spanish Literature.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, 58-74.

Having been inspired by both Emily's and E.L. Fay's various essay reviewing projects last year and not having been inspired by bloggers who post about YA fiction originally intended for 12-year olds, I've decided to share some of my own essay-reading experiences here from time to time this year even though I suspect that this will prob. turn out to be the blog equivalent of BOX OFFICE POISON!  Be that as it may, it's quite a pleasure for me to spend a few moments talking about Yale professor María Rosa Menocal (above, shown leading a class), whose 2002 The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain is a beautifully written and extremely engaging cultural history highlight from my pre-book blogging days.  "Beginnings," one of five chapters on "The Medieval Period" in The Cambridge History of Spanish Literature*, is a similarly provocative but much more intensely focused piece of work given its reduced scope, laying out some of the thorny questions (headings: What is Spanish, before there is Spanish?  What is medieval? What is lost?) to be confronted when trying to apply a post-1492 mindset to the study of the origins of a "national literature" when such a mindset had no such meaning for the residents of the multilingual, multi-religious Spanish society for most of the pre-1492 period in question.  While I wouldn't dream of trying to summarize Menocal's complex response to this series of equally complex questions, suffice it to say that her study is a wonderful starting point for anyone interested in seeing how Castilian interacted with Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and other peninsular Romance languages (Catalan, Galician) in the medieval period before becoming the national and international language/literature giant that it is today.  More on Menocal, in the form of her new book The Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture (co-authored with Jerilynn D. Dodds and Abigail Krasner Balbale) and of her older title The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature: The Literature of al-Andalus (co-edited with Raymond P. Scheindlin and Michael Sells), can be expected "soon," but in the meantime "Beginnings" is exactly the sort of thing that makes me think that our top academics are the unsung heroes and heroines of the book world.  Cool.  *The five chapters in sequential order: John Dagenais' "Medieval Spanish literature in the twenty-first century"; Menocal's "Beginnings"; Andrew M. Beresford's "The Poetry of medieval Spain"; James Burke's "Medieval Spanish prose"; Charlotte D. Stern's "The medieval theatre: between scriptura and theatrica." (

miércoles, 6 de enero de 2010

"May Satan devour you, you murderers!"

--Eça de Queirós, 1875, upon learning that his friends had begun serializing the unedited draft of The Crime of Father Amaro without his consent (as reported by Margaret Jull Costa, introduction to The Crime of Father Amaro, New York: New Directions, 2003, pp. 3-4).

lunes, 4 de enero de 2010

Homenaje a Roberto Arlt

Homenaje a Roberto Arlt
por Ricardo Piglia
Argentina, 1975

Dado que el "diálogo" entre las obras de Roberto Arlt y las obras de Ricardo Piglia es una fuente de fascinación para mí, tengo a mucha honra comenzar el nuevo año de lecturas con una entrada dedicada a este asunto jugoso.  Homenaje a Roberto Arlt fue publicado en 1975 como el último relato del libro Nombre falso, una recopilación de seis cuentos de Piglia, pero desde el principio parece ser algo distinto de los demás en cuanto a su género. De hecho, el autor dice en las primeras líneas que "esto que escribo es un informe o mejor un resumen: está en juego la propiedad de un texto de Roberto Arlt, de modo que voy a tratar de ser ordenado y objetivo.  Yo soy quien descubrió el único relato de Arlt que ha permanecido inédito después de su muerte.  El texto se llama Luba" (99).  Aunque Piglia finge narrar esta historia de manera objetiva--describiendo cómo él obtuvo el ejemplar de Arlt y identificándose como un investigador responsable por la edición del cuento de Arlt que vamos a leer--su "informe" es principalmente un homenaje a Arlt en el sentido de que es una provocación ficticia.  La primera parte de la obra tiene que ver con la descripción de un cuaderno de Arlt con supuestos apuntes del autor de Los 7 locos y Los lanzallamas.  Un toque típico: Al mencionar ideas para un proyecto futuro, Arlt habla de un personaje que va a escribir un ensayo que se llama "Elogio del arsénico" (108).  Y otro: Arlt opina que "creo que jamás será superado el feroz servilismo y la inexorable crueldad de los hombres de este siglo.  Creo que a nosotros nos ha tocado la misión de asistir al crepúsculo de la piedad y que no nos queda otro remedio que escribir deshechos de furia para no salir a la calle a tirar bombas o a instalar prostíbulos" (117)  ¡Qué fidedigno!  La segunda parte de la obra tiene que ver con la gente que Piglia conoce durante el curso de su investigación.  Al principio, hay "un obrero ferroviario jubilado" que "había sido director de una biblioteca socialista en Bánfield durante la década del 30" cuando conoció a Arlt (102).  Más tarde hay un tal Kostia, viejo amigo de Arlt, que eventualmente vendrá el manuscrito de Luba a Piglia a pesar de estar lleno de anécdotas cínicas y amargas acerca de su amigo: "Quería poner una escuela de novelistas para enseñar a escribir mal, único antídoto en este país de pobres escritores.  Le gustaban las mujeres casadas con cara de turras y las putas con caras de inocentes" (131-132).   Al final del "resumen", el cuento Luba, con su trama de un amor entre un anarquista y una prostituta, se incluye como apéndice.  Todo esto, por supuesto, es una serie de mentiras por parte del cuentista Piglia.  Atribuyendo citas de Bertold Brecht ("Qué es robar un banco comparado con fundarlo?", una pregunta qué será el epígrafe futuro de su Plata quemada) a Arlt e inventando por completo la historia del descubrimiento de Luba (ojo: no he leído el cuento original, pero los críticos explican que es una versión de "Las tinieblas" escrita por un tal Leónidas Andreiev y adaptada por Piglia en un estilo arltiano), Piglia narra una suerte de retrato inventado de Arlt al mismo tiempo que plantea un par de problemas crítico-literarios fundamentales: ¿Qué significa ser el "autor" de una obra?  ¿Es posible crear literatura original sin "plagio" de una forma o otra?  No tengo ni idea cuál obra de Piglia la voy a leer después de ésta, pero sigo siendo leal hincha del escritor por su rica concepción de la ficción.  ¡Un golazo!
  • "Homenaje a Roberto Arlt" y "Apéndice: Luba" se pueden encontrar en Ricardo Piglia, Nombre falso, Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI Argentina, 1975, 97-172. 

viernes, 1 de enero de 2010

Lecturas de enero

1) Mrs. Dalloway (1925) y 2) To the Lighthouse (1927)*

3) Yo el Supremo (1974)

*Para más información (en inglés) sobre Woolf in Winter, el readalong de 4 obras de Virginia Woolf organizado por mis amigas blogueras Claire, Emily, Frances, y Sarah, véase los post de Sarah sobre Mrs. Dalloway y de Emily sobre To the Lighthouse.  Por pura casualidad, Sarah también tiene una reseña espectacular de Yo el Supremo en traducción aquí.

*For more info on Woolf in Winter, the readalong of 4 Virginia Woolf works organized by my blog buddies Claire, Emily, Frances, and Sarah, see Sarah's post on Mrs. Dalloway and Emily's post on To the Lighthouse.  By sheer coincidence, Sarah also has a spectacular review of I, the Supreme (the English translation of Yo el Supremo) up here.

algunas estadísticas/some random stats

Influído por otros bloggers, ayer conté el número de libros que leí durante 2009 (sin contar los libros inacabados o los libros leídos sin postear una reseña): 43.  Un número pequeño, lo sé, pero conmigo está todo bien.  De los 43 libros, 28 fueron leídos en inglés y 15 fueron leídos en castellano.  De los 28 leídos en inglés, 15 fueron traducciones de obras escritas en otras lenguas y sólo 13 fueron escritos en inglés como el lenguaje original.  ¿Los lenguajes "más de moda" según el número de libros leídos?  El castellano (16 libros [15 en castellano y otra obra en traducción de que no pude encontrarla en español]), el inglés (13), el italiano (4), el latín (3), el aléman (2), el árabe (2), el francés (1), el noruego (1), y el portugués (1).  Los países de moda según el lugar de nacimiento del autor?  Estados Unidos (7), Argentina (5), Chile (4), Inglaterra (4), Italia (4), Imperio Romano (3), España (2), Perú (2), Alemania (1), Austria (1), Brasil (1), Canadá (1), Colombia (1), Dinamarca (1), Honduras (1), Líbano (1), México (1), República Dominicana (1), Sudán (1), y Suiza (1).  Tristemente, muchas de estas obras fueron compuestas en el exilio.  Leí 30 novelas y 13 obras de no ficción, escritas por 31 hombres y sólo 7 mujeres.  Autores leídos más que una vez: Roberto Bolaño (3), Ricardo Piglia (2), Leonardo Sciascia (2), y Mario Vargas Llosa (2).  ¿Mi ficción  favorita leída en 2009?  Mas o menos en orden de preferencia:  1) 2666 de Roberto Bolaño (si estás interesado, véase mis 9 post de readalong sobre la novela entre junio y octubre).  2 y 3) Respiración artificial y Plata quemada de Ricardo Piglia.  4) Jakob von Gunten de Roberto Walser.  5) Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih.  6) La Virgen de los Sicarios de Fernando Vallejo.  ¿La mejor obra de no ficción?  Operación Masacre de Rodolfo Walsh.  Aunque me gustaría encontrar más equilibrío entre libros escritos por hombres y libros escritos por mujeres en 2010, será un buen año si encuentre 6 o 7 otras obras tan buenas como éstas arriba.  ¡Mientras tanto, "Feliz 2010" a todos!

Bowing to peer pressure from other bloggers, I spent part of yesterday counting the number of books that I read in 2009 (not including books I didn't finish or books I finished without posting a review): 43.  A relatively small number, I know, but I'm OK with that.  Of the 43 books, 28 were read in English and 15 were read in Spanish.  Of the 28 read in English, 15 were works in translation leaving only 13 originally written in English.  So what were the most "popular" languages according to the number of books read?  Spanish (16 books [15 in Spanish + 1 translation read in English because I couldn't find a copy of the work in the original language]), English (13), Italian (4), Latin (3), Arabic (2), German (2), French (1), Norwegian (1), and Portuguese (1).  The most popular countries by author's place of birth?  The U.S. (7), Argentina (5), Chile (4), England (4), Italy (4), the Roman Empire (3), Peru (2), Spain (2), Austria (1), Brazil (1), Canada (1), Colombia (1), Denmark (1), Dominican Republic (1), Germany (1), Honduras (1), Lebanon (1), Mexico (1), Sudan (1), and Switzerland (1).  Sadly, many of these works were written in exile.  I read 30 novels and 13 nonfiction works, written by 31 men and only 7 women.  Authors read more than once: Roberto Bolaño (3), Ricardo Piglia (2), Leonardo Sciascia (2), and Mario Vargas Llosa (2).  My favorite fiction in 2009?  More or less in order of preference: 1) Roberto Bolaño's 2666 (if interested, check out my 9 readalong posts on it between June and October). 2 and 3) Ricardo Piglia's Respiración artificial and Plata quemada.  4) Robert Walser's Jakob von Gunten.  5) Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.  6) Fernando Vallejo's La Virgen de los Sicarios.  Favorite nonfiction work?  Rodolfo Walsh's Operación Masacre. Although I'd naturally like to have more of a gender balance in the authors I read in 2010, I'll consider it a successful year if I can come across another 6 or 7 works as great as the ones above.  In the meantime, "Happy 2010"!